Nowhere to go. Nothing to do. No one to see. Awake at night fretting. Has the moon always shone through that singular window, or have the trees thinned as they've gotten older?

Days drag. Monotony seats itself and stays. In the meantime, patience wanes. Adult becomes child. Child becomes fiend. Words hurt, even as they come forth from the throat and pass the lips, and like the sharp slap of a hand, they sting. Infinity is marching in circles. While time expands, space compresses. Still, there's too little room for minds and feet to wander aimlessly or with purpose.

As if overnight, bodies weather. That shock of grey, that spray of flecks, that crepey skin. What matters? Things feel so unchanged, and yet alien. Is happiness so fleeting, despair something to cling to like wrapping arms around a tree when bodies are off limits? Which bark serves us—smooth, so that we don't feel too much, or rugged, to remind us we are not alone in bearing scars and hardships?

Mouths hunger even when the gut doesn't. Food—or its refusal—is a steadfast companion for stress and worry. At times there's no filling that inner pit. At others, emptiness and abstinence quench.

A face unseen for mere days looks akin to one that's been missing for ages. Under a cap, mask at her chin, is she familiar or somehow foreign? And who is inside this body? Someone new? Or the same ole tired one, perhaps emerging from a long facade of optimism. Are we coming undone, or being remade?

How many days has this shirt been worn, this exact path been trod, these same backroads been traveled along? Wear the garment inside out and it's altogether different—raw-edged as if neglected, or perhaps well loved. Meander the path and roads in the opposite direction and stumble upon an unseen landscape. So many missed vistas to discover.

Forgiveness. For ourselves. For others. It is possible, even easy, like bending a sapling nearly in half without a break or splinter. Inside, we're that tender. If anything, the sheath may give way, revealing a heart rarely seen, like a moon held between branches, or a wooded path roamed in the opposite direction.

Photo by Michael Kolster

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